Censorship in Indian Cinema
"Censorship is when a work of art expressing an idea which does not fall under current convention is seized, cut up, withdrawn, impounded, ignored, maligned, or otherwise made inaccessible to its audience." The controversy around the denial of the censor certificate to Anand Patwardhan's film War and Peace (Jang aur Aman) — the filmmaker was asked to make 21 cuts — raises certain questions. Why is the State interested in censoring what we see? What is it that it thinks is dangerous for whom and why? Is it a stray case of Board members taking decisions callously, or is it part of a well-thought-out strategy by which the Censor Board typically functions? Is its existence stifling progressive cinema and freedom of expression? Are we losing more than what we are gaining on account of censorship? On one side we find the State promoting reactionary films like Gadar (Turmoil), which deals with the India Pakistan Partition of 1947, or Border, a film about the Indo-Pak war that incites audiences enough to shout slogans of "Pakistan Murdabad" ("Down with Pakistan!"). The State passes Satya (The Truth), which shows indiscriminate killing of "gangsters" at the hands of police and even makes such films tax free, but it does not allow Patwardhan's films to be screened. The fact is thatWar and Peace is critical of India's nuclear bomb, which has been projected by the State as a major national achievement, while those other films endorse the State's point of view. It is a clear case of the Censor Board acting as an institution of the State to direct the public discourse and to safeguard its interests. The large-scale violence taking place in the world needs the support of the masses. They may not participate in the carnage but support it tacitly. As long as we have films likeGadar and Border in India, we will have the class that supports the kind of violence that has recently taken place in Gujrat in which thousands of Muslims were killed and many...
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